Shifting the balance between crimmigration and human rights protections in Australia’s criminal deportation policy 1958-2018

Rebecca Powell1

1The Border Crossing Observatory, Monash University

Australia’s criminal deportation policy was included in the Migration Act from when it was enacted in 1958. Ever present within the policy has been a tension between human rights and considerations of removal of convicted non-citizens on the basis of their criminal offending and non-citizenship status in the interest of protecting community safety (a crimmigration response). This policy has evolved over time and reflects changing dynamics within this tension towards a more recent emergence of a crimmigration charged ‘deportation machine’ (Comrie cited in Nicholls 2007:11). I have analysed these policy developments across four distinct policy waves, each characterised by significant policy developments in relation to crimmigration. Notably a considerable expansion of executive power occurred during waves 3 and 4, whereas the policy incorporated increasing protections for non-citizen longer term residents who may get caught up in the criminal justice system during waves 1 and 2. This paper reveals the moments, context and impacts of this changing balance between crimmigration and human rights for those subject to Australia’s criminal deportation.


Rebecca Powell is the Managing-Director of the Border Crossing Observatory and Research Manager of the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre. She is currently completing a PhD titled ‘Balancing risk and human rights in the deportation of convicted non-citizens from Australia to New Zealand’.

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